…or at least as long it takes for you to read this article.
Anyway, let’s not waste anymore time, we’re on a tight schedule.
You’re reading this article because there are times when you feel powerless. Maybe you feel powerless right now. There are many possible reasons – you work for a boss that you hate but you just can’t quit, you want to start a business but you just can’t think of a great idea, you want to get married but you just can’t seem to get a date, etc.
Powerless people have one thing in common: they love to use the word “can’t”. They’ve used it so often that it is natural for them but “can’t” is a dangerous word. When “can’t” is used, all progress and creativity stops. It is a declaration that there is no other solution and that’s the way it’s going to be.
The funny thing about “can’t” is that it doesn’t really mean anything on its own.
It’s merely a shortcut for three possible meanings:
I Don’t Want to …
“I can’t go to the concert tonight.” = “I don’t want to go to the concert tonight, I would rather stay home and relax.”
I Don’t Know How …
“I can’t speak Russian.” = “I don’t know how to speak Russian.”
I Don’t Believe I Can …
“I can’t lose weight.” = “Even though I know the method for losing weight and I want to lose it, I don’t believe I can lose weight.”
Before you read on, test this out. Think of a time when you used “can’t” and see if it fits one of those three meanings.
Surprised? I definitely was. I remember how excited I was when I tested out the different times I used “can’t” and realizing it really did fit one of the three meanings.
From that point on, I became aware of my usage of “can’t” and I began replacing it with the real meaning. I use to think “I can’t build my own website. I don’t know anything about html or programming.” but when I realized what I really meant was “I don’t know how to build a website.”, it made it clear why I wasn’t where I want to be and that I can do something about it. I really felt empowered. My website and blog are the results of this empowerment.
If you’re not where you want to be, ask yourself why not? If your answer contains “can’t”, is it because you don’t want to, you don’t know how to or you don’t believe you can.
If you don’t want to, then that’s fine because that’s your choice.
If you don’t know how, you can choose to learn.
The easiest one of the three to overcome is if you don’t believe you can because all you have to do is change your belief which takes about one second and can be done without getting up from your chair.
There you have it with some time to spare. Remove “can’t” from your vocabulary today and get ready to make some real progress in your goals and in your life by turning your dreams into possibilities.
Remember: There is really no such thing as “can’t”.
Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.